CEO Talks: Interview with the CEO of Home Center

February 15, 2022 | By 123

Sameer Jain took on the role of the CEO of Home Center Landmark Group in 2017. He joined the family-owned retail group Landmark in 2014. Offering outstanding value, quality products, and exceptional customer experience, Home Centre is the largest omnichannel retailer for home furnishings in the Middle East, North Africa & the Indian sub-continent.  Established in 1995 with its first store in the UAE, today Home Centre has a wide network of 125 stores, across the UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and India. Easy to navigate and serving as a one-stop solution for all home furnishing, the Home Centre e-commerce platform provides customers an extensive range of over 14,000 products at the tip of the fingers. Recently, in celebration of its 25th anniversary and to further strengthen the value of the brand, Sameer spoke to us about launching a new brand identity and how the brand has been a vital part in enabling people to turn their houses into homes.

‘Home is where the heart is’ — a popular saying we all swear by isn’t it? Every home has a unique story to tell and shoppers love to immerse themselves in the colourful inspired world of home furnishings. Sourcing something beautiful and elegant and choosing the right furniture always adds that special touch to your a home. Home decor industry statistics for 2021 reveal that the market is dominated by Asia-Pacific, which is projected to grow at a 3.2% CAGR by 2027. This is the why the retail industry in the sector is gaining momentum every year. As the region’s preferred home shopping destination,Home Centre offers an extensive and impressive range of furniture, home furnishings, home accessories, bed & bath items and kitchenware. Their in-house team of stylists and buyers draw inspiration from global trends to bring stylish and affordable furniture and home furnishing to a wide spectrum of homes from traditional to modern. 

Launching a new brand identity Inspired By You

Recently, in celebration of its 25th anniversary and to further strengthen the value of the brand, Home Centre unveiled a new brand identity that is underpinned by their customer-first approach of enabling every home to tell its own unique story. The new brand identity, was launched with a campaign titled ‘Inspired by you’ as attribute to over 25 million homes that they have been a part of and continue to be. The brand also launched an emotional campaign, ‘Your Home. Your Home Centre.’ “The campaign is reflective of the core brand values that celebrate the lives of customers who have been a vital part of the brand’s journey in enabling people to turn their houses into homes”. stated Sameer.  

At the heart of this campaign was a digital activation that reached out to people across the region. Customers could participate without any purchase and simply express ‘What home means to them. Around 12000+ people across GCC participated in this activation, sharing with Home Centre their unique home stories, their favourite colour, texture, pattern & object. Home Centre used these unique home inspirations to support their thought process behind the new identity which is inspired by real people and reflects their lives, their stories. “ 25 winners of this contest will be thanked for their participation with room makeovers from Home Centre. The new brand makeover and the collections inspired by this evolution amplify the message that every home has a unique story to tell. Home Centre enables customers to select from the wide range of products and their curated collections reflect unique styles and personalities driven by the theme ‘Inspired By You”, added Sameer.  

Through ongoing research and continuous engagement with their customers across the region,  Homecentre culminated in the launch of this new positioning and brand identity. “I don’t believe in finishing but starting and as part of our journey we need to stay even more connected to our customers. There was a need to evolve with changing consumer behaviour. We are now looking at the next 25 years and want to reach out to our customers with a re-positioned look and feel of our brand which is not just a physical change in identity but a refreshed ethos that runs across the various touchpoints of our organisation. The new brand makeover is also a reflection of how Home Centre’s customers can update their homes and explore new ideas, designs and color palettes to give a stylish makeover to their homes. “Any brand lives it’s life through it’s customers and when we say about your home, it’s not about what we have managed to set-up as a business but it is the love of our customers which we have made as a brand. Your home is a celebration of that love and trust that customers have placed in us for the last 25 years and hopefully this journey continues for the next 25 years”, said Sameer. 

Strategies as an Omnichannel retailer 

An omnichannel retail strategy improves the customer experience and provides more channels for customer purchase––whether it is on mobile, web, or in stores. “ Our chairwoman Renuka Jagtiani was a far-sighted woman, she started this journey for the group nearly seven years ago and we were the first few retailers from the Middle East that started our platform both in terms of an app and web-based platform. We might not be the number 1 in some of the markets with respect to our overall revenues, Ikea might have that place in some markets but in terms of online reviews we clearly are the number one market and that is thanks to the vision our chairwoman had and the relentless execution that our team put together”

Nowadays, it is critical to give customers what they want, when they want it, and where they want. This is placing increased pressure on retailers and consumer product companies to ensure that the promise they are making to the customer is fulfilled completely. And this is what omnichannel retailing is all about. There are various factors that determines it’s success. “If you want to be an omnichannel player, there are multiple parts that have to come together – How you shoot your merchandise, how you present it to your customers on the app because that’s the first point for a person to decide and the final customer service whether they to shop online to visit the store itself. So it’s been an amalgamation of what the customer wants and it’s not far from  what’s happening in the world”.If you see the retail trends globally, it is not about what a retailer wants to do but you have to adapt to what a customer wants. Nearly 4 years ago less than 5% of revenue used to come from Zara or ikea online, today that number is about 25%/. There are many retailers who cross 30% like GAP and NEXT in UK that has crossed 60% of its revenue coming from online. So the world is changing and you have to change to fulfill our customer needs in the best possible way, added Sameer

Data redefining the retail industry 

Today, retailers are adopting data-driven technology approaches to make the customer indulge in a seamless shopping experience. Sameer agreed. “ If you look at it, any business today needs to understand how his consumer is behaving or his consumer behaviors is changing. So analysing data becomes an imperative part to run your business well. If you see Home Centre as an example, we today get close to 3500 people visiting our apps or website everyday. We have nearly 60,000+ customers walking through our doors across in 67 stores across 7 countries. And these people generate tons of transactions with us. I mean if you look at it, nearly 2.5 million people shop with us every year, close 6 milliom+ transactions and all that needs to be analyzed in a meaningful way to make sure that we have to right products at the right price available for our customers to a channel where they want to shop at whether sitting at the comfort of their home or whether our stores or through the online kiosks we have where it becomes an endless isle for them to have for the ranges that is not available in the store. 

So the need for understanding, dissecting than assimilating the insights that come from the data are absolutely imperative for any business in today’s time to not just survive but also grow future. Starting point for all this is consumer behavior, so a lot of customer insights are drawn from this – something which all retailers do worldwide is RFML – which is recency, frequency and monetary value. How often do customers visit us, when they shop with us, when they buy, how much do they spend and that helps us to predict the buying behavior in future. Helping us to forecast what they need to buy ..what colors are trending well, what patterns are trending well, what materials are trending well so that we have the right merchandise to offer to our customers and we can serve them in the best possible way.

Home Retail in Physical and Online stores

During the Covid-19 pandemic, online became a fundamental channel for retailers. Even as overall retail spend decreased, eCommerce sales grew over the previous year and home furnishing retail took a sliver of the overall e-retail cake. “I don’t think online is taking over physical stores. I think home furnishings is an involvement purchase category. People still want to touch and feel the products before. That might not be applicable to 10-20% of the population but 80% of the people might still want to go, see the merchandise and then decide if they still want to buy it and they could choose whether they want to buy it. So, brick-and-mortar stores will always remain relevant. Also online has been a big equalizer in terms of location difference because through online you can service a customer who can be based out of any city or country”, said Sameer. 

Home Centre has consistently ranked among the top 50 brands in the Middle East Global Brand Simplicity Index and won the IMAGES “Most Admired Retailer of the Year: Home & Office Improvement Category” at the 11th Images Retail Awards in 2014. ” We would like Home Centre to be the most loved customer brand in whichever market we operate in. For any retailer, growth could come through either entering new markets or starting new formats or new categories. We have plans across each of these dimensions in our growth plans. Our end goal is to be the market leader”, concluded Sameer. 

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